Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday morning to discuss the Red Sox' possibilities for their next manager, where Theo Epstein will be next season, and his take on Terry Francona's departure.
"I think it was very difficult on Terry," Gammons said of Boston's late-season struggles. "Did it get out of control to some degree? Yeah I guess so. I think he has been portrayed too much as this guy who was cowering in a corner. ... He had been really beaten up. We've talked about it here, we've kidded about it, the tenures of managers in Boston should be judged in dog years. So at the end of 56 years of managing the Red Sox, he needed to move on."
Francona decided to walk away on Friday after much speculation that he would be pushed out by the front office after the September collapse. Gammons said that he believes Francona knew he was out no matter what he did.
"I had a strong implication that ownership was not going to pick up the option no matter what," Gammons said. "Now, when Theo on Thursday talked to Terry and said, 'OK, we want to go in and make your case on how we move forward.' At that point, I think Terry was convinced no matter what he did or said, they weren't going to pick up the option. And I don't think Terry Francona's the type of person who is going to go in and beg for anything, and he shouldn't have to, not with his history."
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On if Epstein will move to the Cubs or stick with Boston: "I can understand the excitement of being the first guy to bring a world championship to both the Red Sox and the Cubs. It's an exciting proposition. ... I think they say [to the Cubs], 'Go ahead and talk to him.' And then we'll see how it works out. Knowing how rational John Henry is, I think that's a distinct possibility. It's, OK, you can talk to him, but can they offer him more, can they offer him something better than whatever they structured here? One thing that's happened here, that I'm told by a number of people, one thing that's evolved in the last couple of months is that the relationship between Theo and Larry Lucchino has gotten much better. That leads me to believe that it can get worked out better."
On potential compensation the Red Sox might seek from the Cubs if Epstein leaves, including whether the Cubs could be asked to take John Lackey: "No [on Lackey]. I think that unless they're going to do a John Lackey-Carlos Zambrano deal, but I don't think that would happen. I think they would probably go, end up giving up a couple of really good prospects, especially if they're pitchers, because that's something that the Red Sox could really use right now. I think that's the most likely scenario. It's been said many times that [the Red Sox in 2002] actually had agreed to trade Kevin Youkilis for Billy Beane, but that's actually not true. I was going back over this the other day. It was really weird, because Billy was actually negotiating with Paul DePodesta, who was going to take over Billy's job in Oakland. So Billy was acting as the Red Sox general manager and DePodesta was acting as the A's general manager, even though neither one of them was already in his position. And, in the end, he explained, Billy said to Paul, 'Look, there are only three players here at that time in the organization -- Kevin Youkilis, Hanley Ramirez and Kelly Shoppach. I can't give you one of the three real assets in the organization. And if you hold out for it long enough, then you're not going to get the general manager's job. So we have to work it out so we all get what we want.' As it worked out, Billy made the decision to stay closer to his family. He believes it was a life-changing decision not to come to Boston."
On the Red Sox' managerial search: "I was told that their list is pretty close to 40 at some point. You look at it and you say, 'Well, that's the only way to go about it.' You're going through every single name for a week. They don't need to have a manager for a month. ... There aren't guys out there that you're going to say, 'OK, this guy is perfect.' Because you are not going to get those guys.
"Eric Wedge isn't leaving Seattle because he has so much power there and he moved his family there. I think he'd be terrific [in Boston] ... but I don't see that happening, I don't think Seattle would let him go. I think [Don] Mattingly would be a great person here. Someone suggest if they pay Frank McCourt's October MasterCard bill then maybe he'd give him up, but I don't think the Dodgers can let Mattingly go, especially after he stabilized the entire franchise midseason. I see names that make a lot of sense, but the question is, could they come in and deal with this high-priced, high-profile, high-ego team. To me, you need a guy who is really good with pitching and really good with presence.
"When you move forward, to the next manager, you have to think about this: One of the things that happens in baseball is that they don't pay or empower coaches enough. I don't think it should be the manager's job to clean out everything. I look at Arizona and what Kirk Gibson's done, and nobody's going to mess with Kirk Gibson, but on the other hand, you've got Don Baylor and Alan Trammell and Charles Nagy, he's got unbelievable coaches. And they're all paid."
Dale, Michael and Jerry dig into the details of this draft for the Patriots with ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Giardi and Price discuss the Tom Brady appeal getting overturned and Roger Goodell's victory tour. The guys can't believe the victory lap and some of his behavior. The more you listen to him, the more frustrating his behavior becomes.
Giardi and Price break down how the teams in the AFC East altered their futures after the NFL Draft weekend.
Ian Thomsen of NBA.com joined Sam Packard and Jared Weiss to discuss the next moves for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics with the NBA Draft Lottery rapidly approaching. They discussed the crazy ending to Game 2 of Thunder vs Spurs and picked the player they would build their pretend new franchise around.
Kevin O'Connor of CelticsBlog joined Sam Packard and Jared Weiss for a breakdown of what went wrong in the Celtics series against the Hawks. they then played Celtics free agent tinder and looked ahead to the big moves in store for the offseason.
It wouldn't be a Celtics v Hawks Game 6 preview/Game 5 breakdown without ESPN's Celtics Whisperer Chris Forsberg joining Sam Packard and Jared Weiss for some WEEI Studio magic. They discuss the Hawks' transition dominance on their mega runs and the bizarre night for Isaiah Thomas. Of course they also answered your #WEEICeltics Tweet Bag questions!
Joe and Tim are in Chicago where the Red Sox are playing the White Sox and Commissioner Manfred stops by the booth for half an inning.
Joe and Tim talk with Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts after the Red Sox beat the White Sox behind a solid outing from Clay buchholz
Joe Castiglione and Tim Neverett talked to the Sox catcher, whose two-run homer off of Dellin Betances gave the Sox the lead for good over the Yankees.
DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.
DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.
Butch is joined by two-thirds of the Sunday Skate show in DJ and Pete. The guys discuss the problems with Bruins including leadership and grit, who should stay and who should go and if Claude is to blame.
The show goes completely off the rails in the final hour as Gerry tells stories of dogs that were killed when he was a child, and Kirk says he's probably going to own a dog very soon.
Producer candidate, Lucy, defends herself regarding attacks on her abilities to do the job, from Paul and Ken.
Oscar de la Hoya says that Donald Trump is a notorious cheater on the links.
Johnny Manziel had his arraignment today, and a Texas Judge has ordered that he cannot contact his former Girlfriend; the guys react, and talk about the obscurity on which "Johnny Football" might be teetering.
Will there be a big trade? What should the C's do with their draft picks this year? Glenn, Lou, and Christian discuss Danny's options
Glenn and Christian delve deep into Lou "Gossiping" on Kirk Minihane's "Enough About Me" Podcast; accompanied by select audio clips
We discuss Sir Charles' latest comments from TNT about taking out one of the Cavaliers. This leads to a full discussion about Barkley, the softness of the Hawks, how this used to always happen in the NBA and much more.
Discussion of David Ortiz's clutch HR vs the White Sox leads us into a total discussion of David Ortiz's legacy in Boston, and whether or not he should actually retire.
Inspired by him asking the Hawks to 'take out' one of the Cavaliers, we focus on four other dumb things that Charles Barkley has said in the media.
Mikey and Lenny talk Clay Buchholz' struggles, and visit the Ghosts of Baseball past (Well, some of them are still alive...)
Mikey and Lenny talk Sox and Sandoval
It’s all about the music – the crew touches on Prince, and the greatest bands of all time
Mike Mutnansky handicaps the 142nd running of the the Kentucky Derby with Matt Bernier of the Daily Racing Form, award-winning author Dick Jerardi courtesy of Xpressbet.com and Daily Racing Form clocker Mike Vesce.
Ben, Russ & Alex talk about the UCL semi-finals, which have resulted in an Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid final. They also talk about the unbelievable story of Leicester City winning the English Premier League.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down the return of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and what it means to the future of the offensive line, new safeties coach Steve Belichick and his football relationship to his dad and recap the Patriots 2016 draft and what to expect from some of the higher profile selections in their upcoming rookie season.
We check in for the national perspective on Tom Brady's reinstated suspension from MMQB/SI's Peter KingMore from this show
Is the fire out? The passion Patriots fans once held for this topic seems to have fizzled. We explore what the Patriots do from here, especially the first four games of the season.More from this show
The guys look at what's next for Tom Brady.More from this show
In the latest edition of the It Is What It Is podcast, Chris Price talks with ESPN's Field Yates about the Patriots and what they'll do at quarterback in the wake of the latest Deflategate ruling. Chris and Field also discuss how New England is going to approach this year's draft, as well as how the Pats stack up against the rest of the AFC East at this point of the offseason.More from this show